SALISBURY Hockey Men's firsts suffered their third defeat of the season away at league leaders Gillingham 3-1, dropping down three places into sixth in Hampshire 1.

The away side started slowly, struggling to keep the ball, and it didn't take long for the hosts to take the lead.

Failure to stop a good run from a Gillingham midfielder resulted in a decent cross and tap in from a couple of yards for a centre forward.

Salisbury made some changes soon after, this seemed to give them some control of the game. And pressure finally paid off when Henry Smith's shot could only be stopped on the line by a Gillingham foot, Tom Morton finished confidently from the penalty spot.

With the scores level at half time and Salisbury looking the most dangerous at the end of the first, Gillingham came out firing.

The Salisbury defence was caught ball-watching straight from the restart, allowing a Gillingham midfielder to stroll into the Salisbury area and finish high into the corner of the goal. Gillingham then put the game out of Salisbury's reach from a penalty corner midway through the second half.

Despite numerous visits into the opposition circle, Salisbury were unable to find a second as the home side were prepared to sit back and protect their lead.

Captain Andy Renshaw said: "We started slowly in both halves, which ultimately cost us. We looked good once we went 1-0 down but we ran out of steam in the second half with a couple of the lads suffering with illness throughout the game."